Today I looked in on the Malbec which is undergoing fermentation in a stainless steel open fermenter. The folks at the winery nicknamed this fermenter "Harry Highpants" because it is so tall. The juice is kept in contact with the skins during fermentation in order to leach tannins, flavor and color into the must in a process called maceration. In the course of fermentation, carbon dioxide is formed carrying the skins to the surface where they form a cap. They need to be kept wet and in contact with the juice in order to extract color and tannin and flavor. To do this, you either plunge the cap below the surface of the juice ("punch down") or pump the juice over the cap. Here's a snap of a "pump over" which distributes the ferment and both wets and massages the cap of skins.
What I learned today that I found so interesting is that a punch down is not just a punch down and a pump over is not just a pump over. Essentially you can transmit your vibration, intention, spirit, and feeling into the wine as you perform the action! (I know - duh!) So the objective is to massage the cap with the juice, moving it with energy and focus. Pretty cool, right? The idea here being that at every step of the process you can consciously affect how the wine turns out through your mindfulness. It works much as if you were cooking. A recipe is only just a recipe, if you shut off your intuition and mechanically follow the directions.
Again I'm struck by how everything involved in the process of wine-making matters! Attitude, feeling, focus, sensitivity are all brought to bear in every step. It is not formulaic unless you are making formula wine, which we most emphatically are not doing.
I have a sneaky suspicion that this Malbec is going to be awesome!